Whatsapp Data Puts Facebook Deal in Jeopardy

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has complained to the US Federal Trade Commission about Facebook’s proposed purchase of Whatsapp. Their concern is that the 450mn Whatsapp users have not agreed to, and would not choose to agree to, Facebook’s exploitation their personal data.

The FTC’s response will give an important indication of the value of personal data obtained via a corporate takeover. Facebook has already said they would run Whatsapp as a separate business. However, given that Facebook monetizes data by using it to target advertising, there is no doubt that the data possessed by Whatsapp would be valuable to them. The acquisition begs further questions too. If the purchase goes ahead with legal constraints over how Facebook can use Whatsapp’s personal data, government authorities still have a very poor track record when it comes to detecting violations, and hence enforcing the rules they advocate. In Europe, the push towards forcing businesses to recruit Data Protection Officers indicates the authorities are incapable of enforcing laws if businesses do not police themselves.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Director of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.